en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) , en- \
enforced; enforcing; enforces

Definition of enforce

transitive verb

1 : to give force to : strengthen
2 : to urge with energy enforce arguments
3 : constrain, compel enforce obedience
4 obsolete : to effect or gain by force
5 : to carry out effectively enforce laws

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Other Words from enforce

enforceability \ in-​ˌfȯr-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce enforceability (audio) , en-​ \ noun
enforceable \ in-​ˈfȯr-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce enforceable (audio) , en-​ \ adjective
enforcement \ in-​ˈfȯr-​smənt How to pronounce enforcement (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Examples of enforce in a Sentence

Police will be enforcing the parking ban. the duty of the police is to enforce the law
Recent Examples on the Web Lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for at least four weeks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning New Zealanders of zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required. Fox News, "Americans flocking to New Zealand immigration website in hopes of avoiding coronavirus: report," 31 July 2020 Authorities in Victoria state recently imposed new lockdown orders, following a surge in cases, and have sought to enforce them with severe fines. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump threatens to pull tax exemption for schools, colleges," 10 July 2020 According to the order, businesses and facilities are also required to post signage at public entrances informing patrons of the requirement, as well as to enforce it. USA TODAY, "Nail salons, strip club outbreak, Harvard from afar: News from around our 50 states," 8 July 2020 The occupation’s shift work, with long hours and heightened levels of risk, engenders that loyalty; powerful unions help enforce it. Dan Zak, Washington Post, "The duty and burden of the black police officer," 6 July 2020 Yet the sheriffs of Lewis and Klickitat counties have publicly objected to the mask law and don’t seem likely to enforce it. oregonlive, "How does Oregon’s statewide mask law compare to 20 others around the nation? It’s more lenient than most.," 3 July 2020 Regardless of how the offenses are described or the punishments laid down, many will be watching to see how strenuously police and prosecutors enforce them. James Griffiths, CNN, "Hong Kong is about to be governed by a law most residents have never seen. And it's already having an effect," 30 June 2020 Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in New York City because of the coronavirus, but those rules have been ignored by protesters for weeks and police have not moved to enforce them. CBS News, "De Blasio seeks to cut $1 billion from NYPD budget," 29 June 2020 Newel said so many people were flouting the rules that law enforcement officers weren’t able to effectively enforce them. Chronicle Staff, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: June 24-25," 27 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enforce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of enforce

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for enforce

Middle English, from Anglo-French enforcer, from en- + force force

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Time Traveler for enforce

Time Traveler

The first known use of enforce was in the 14th century

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Statistics for enforce

Last Updated

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Enforce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enforce. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for enforce


How to pronounce enforce (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of enforce

: to make (a law, rule, etc.) active or effective : to make sure that people do what is required by (a law, rule, etc.)
: to make (something) happen : to force or cause (something)


en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) \
enforced; enforcing

Kids Definition of enforce

1 : to make happen He tried to enforce cooperation.
2 : to carry out or make effective enforce a law

Other Words from enforce

enforcement \ –mənt \ noun
enforced; enforcing

Legal Definition of enforce

: to cause to take effect or to be fulfilled enforcing the divorce decree Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislationU.S. Constitution amend. XIX

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More from Merriam-Webster on enforce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enforce

Spanish Central: Translation of enforce

Nglish: Translation of enforce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enforce for Arabic Speakers

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